Carbon Pricing and Pollution Costs - Talking Business 2011 Ep 24c

A review of the week in business, with expert analysis and commentary.

Garry and Leon talk about the carbon price scheme, with a carbon tax of $23 a tonne getting placed on 500 of Australia’s worst polluters. The scheme hands out over $15 billion in compensation to households to help offset the cost of living impact of the changes. The government will spend $9.2 billion over the first three years of the scheme to safeguard heavy polluting industries like steel and aluminium production. Steelmakers, including Australia's largest steelmakers BlueScope and OneSteel Ltd, will receive 94.5 per cent of free permits and $300 million in extra grants. Still, the latest polls show that 68 per cent say the tax will leave them worse off. The Baillieu government meanwhile warns Victorians to brace for more frequent power outages in summer with the likely closure of the Hazelwood power plant. Former Reserve Bank governor and Treasury head Bernie Fraser will chair a new body advising the government on carbon pricing. Australian stocks fall in response to the announcement. Several prominent analysts express doubt about the government's claims that the carbon tax will cause little harm to growth. But a survey of economists shows most back the carbon tax as good economic policy. Australia's two biggest airlines Qantas and Virgin say they will pass on the full impact of the carbon tax to customers. Various industries say they will be hit hard by the carbon tax but the ones that will make money out of it are banks. The RBA will monitor pay claims and prices rises by business to prepare for the carbon tax and the ACCC will be out to catch carbon tax rorts. Australian miner Macarthur Coal receives a $5 billion takeover bid from US mining giant Peabody Energy and major steel producer ArcelorMittal. The Australian economy is still struggling to gain traction following floods earlier this year, according to a NAB survey. Consumer confidence falls to levels not seen since the global financial crisis in July, according to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index. The growing crisis facing the national retail sector forces the Spencer Street Fashion Station in Melbourne into administration, as the shopping centre, owned by Austexx, owes its lenders $540 million. Residential land sales slide to their lowest level in 10 years, people expect property prices to fall according to a NAB survey but another rise in home loans in May suggests the housing market is starting to pick up.

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Garry Barker and Leon Gettler